Farmers from Luna, Apayao Conquer National Corn Program’s FSTP Phase II, Set for Phase III

LUNA, APAYAO. Twenty-two farmers are to advance to the Phase III of the National Corn-based Farmer-Scientists RDE Training Program (FSTP). These farmers were confirmed as graduates during the FSTP Phase II graduation ceremony on December 4, 2019 at San Francisco, Luna, Apayao. The FSTP is a three-phase program that aims to empower farmers by teaching them comprehensive knowledge in agriculture, developing their social and organizational skills, and shaping them to serve as agricultural extension workers in their own communities. The graduates were reminded during the graduation ceremony that “the technology yesterday maybe applicable today but the technology today may not be applicable tomorrow.”

Apayao Vice Governor Remy Albano expressed the support of the PLGU Apayao to the farmers informing the group on the agriculture and fishery system or roadmap of the Province being drafted that will have direct interventions to the farmers. He also encouraged the graduates to apply what they learned and to continue searching for new technologies. Mr. Florencio Agustin, Municipal Agriculturist of Luna, urged the graduates to become partners of the Municipal Agriculture Office in extending services specifically to serve as resource persons since their Office cannot accommodate all the farmers due to limited number of technical staff.

Ms. Erlinda Innay, one of the graduates emphasized that they were able to finish the two phases of FSTP because of their “Kinagaget, Pigsa, Panagibtor, Panagkararag,” (Industry, Strength, Patience, Prayer) which are the four values of FSTP. She expressed her gratitude to the agricultural technicians for their sacrifices and the support extended to them as she encouraged her fellow farmers to continue applying what they learned.

The Phase I of the FSTP teaches the farmers to do research with the scientists in the field and also learn values for love of God, country and people. They design and conduct experiments that include land preparation, varietal and fertilizer trials, intercropping, among others, which is the initial and technical part of FSTP for the farmers to become farmer-scientists.

During the Phase II, farmers adopt the scientific methods and technologies learned in Phase I into their own farms. These include the use of new high-yielding varieties of corn, sweet potato and vegetables, correct use and application of fertilizer, proper preparation and care of soil. Specifically, Phase II aims to conduct on-farm trials for verification and adoption of corn-based production technologies discovered by the farmer-Scientists through their group experiments in Phase I. It further aims to evaluate which corn-based production technologies are suited for each of farmer-scientists' farms. Finally, the second phase provides farmer-scientists opportunities to conduct other experiments related to corn-based production system in their own farms to maximize crop production and generate more income.

Lastly, Phase III requires them to teach untrained fellow farmers in their barangay as volunteer technicians and extension workers. Thus Phases I and II cover the R&D aspect of the program while Phase III takes care of the extension portion. The FSTP Phase II started on February 2019 and was capped with the graduation ceremony on December 4, 2019. The third phase will be implemented in 2020. (By Jaila S. Sagpa-ey)